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Mutations Fitness and Sexual Attractiveness

Now, if the goal of sexual reproduction is to keep at least some of your offspring safe from your harmful mutations, it would be foolish to pick your sexual partners at random. Any sex partner will carry his or her own load of mutations. You should pick the partner with the lowest number of harmful mutations that will give your offspring the highest expected fitness, which means the best chance of surviving and reproducing. If your choice of sexual partner is very good indeed, your genes may hitch a ride to evolutionary stardom on the genetic quality of your mate. Many biologists are coming to the view that mate choice is a strategy for getting the best genes you can for your offspring. Such traits are called fitness indicators. A fitness indicator is a biological trait that evolved specifically to advertise an animal's fitness. Fitness means the propensity to survive and reproduce successfully. It is determined mainly by an individual's genetic quality, which boils down to their...

Sexual Choice for Fitness

Sir Ronald Fisher first emphasized that animals could choose their sexual partners for high fitness by favoring certain kinds of sexual display As we saw in Chapter 2, his 1915 paper introduced this idea of fitness indicators. But his 1930 book barely mentioned them, and devoted more space to the idea of runaway. When runaway sank into the quicksand of scientific skepticism, Fisher's even more obscure fitness-indicator idea sank with it. The idea waited thirty-six years for rescue. George Williams revived it in his influential classic, Adaptation and Natural Selection. Several decades on, his description of sexual choice for fitness remains unsurpassed. It is to the female's advantage to be able to pick the most fit male available for fathering her brood. Unusually fit fathers tend to have unusually fit offspring. One of the functions of courtship would be the advertisement, by a male, of how fit he is. A male whose general health and nutrition enables him to indulge in full...

Why Is Fitness Still Heritable

Fitness indicators are pointless unless individuals vary in their fitness. If we take fitness to mean the possession of good genes that can be inherited by offspring, then it seems hard to understand how evolution can allow any variation in fitness to remain. Selection is supposed to maximize fitness, driving it ever upwards. It is not supposed to permit fitness variation to persist in species just to provide an incentive for sexual choice. To follow this argument, it is crucial to understand the difference between inherited and heritable. All traits that depend on genes are inherited. But the term heritable is much more restrictive it refers to the proportion of individual differences in a trait that are due to genetic differences between individuals. The concept of heritability applies only to traits that differ between individuals. If a trait exists in precisely the same form across all individuals, it may be inherited, but it cannot be heritable. It should come as no surprise that...

Time Space and Fitness

We saw earlier that fitness is relative to a particular environment. Environment-relative fitness implies that if a population's environment fluctuates over time or space, then the meaning of fitness will fluctuate too. If the meaning of fitness fluctuates, and the population will not stabilize on any one set of genes that will be good in every environment, then environmental variation could maintain genetic variation. On evolutionary time-scales, physical environments are changing all the time. The climate gets colder or hotter. Rivers shift course. Mountains rise and fall. Meteorites strike. But such physical changes are usually too slow or rare to maintain variation in fitness. Species adapt fairly quickly to changes in their physical environments, reaching a new equilibrium where all individuals should have optimal traits and high fitness. More important is the biological environment the other species that are evolving alongside a given population. Predators may get faster or...

How to Advertise Fitness

Fitness is like money in a secret Swiss bank account. You may know how much you have, but nobody else can find out directly. If they ask the bank, the bank will not tell them. If they ask you, you might lie. If they are willing to mate with you if your capital exceeds a certain figure, you may be especially tempted to lie. This is what makes mate choice difficult. The supposedly low heritability of fitness was one argument against the importance of fitness indicators in sexual selection. The other problem is the potentially low reliability of fitness indicators. An animal trying to find a high-fitness mate is in the position of an attractive gold digger seeking a millionaire. She has incentives to mate only with a male who offers high genetic or financial capital. But every male It took biologists another three-quarters of a century to apply the same principle to sexual selection for fitness indicators. As we saw earlier, in 1975 Israeli biologist Amotz Zahavi argued that many animal...

Mental Traits as Fitness Indicators

Fitness indicator theories like Rowe and Houle's model can help us to understand the evolution of the human mind. Our capacities for music, art, creativity, humor, and poetry do not look like ordinary adaptations are supposed to look. Evolutionary psychologists like John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, David Buss, and Steven Pinker have developed some rules for recognizing mental adaptations. If a human mental trait evolved through natural selection for some specific function, it is supposed to show small differences between people, because selection should have eliminated maladaptive variation long ago. It is supposed to show low heritability, because selection should have eliminated all genes other than the optimal ones long ago. It is supposed to be efficient and low in cost, because natural selection favors efficient problemsolving. And it is supposed to be modular and specialized for solving a particular problem, because modular specialization is the efficient way to engineer things....

Are Fitness Indicators Immoral

The idea that the human mind evolved as a bundle of fitness indicators does not sit comfortably with contemporary views of human nature and human society. In fact, it violates at least eight core values commonly accepted in modern society. Variation in fitness betrays our belief in human equality. The heritability of fitness violates our assumption that social and family environments shape most of human development. Loudly advertising one's fitness violates our values of humility, decorum, and tact. Sexual status hierarchies based on fitness violate our belief in egalitarian social organization. The idea that people sort themselves into sexual pairs by assessing each other's fitness violates our romantic ideal of personal compatibility. The conspicuous waste demanded by the handicap principle violates our values of frugality, simplicity, and efficiency. The sexual choice mechanisms that judge individuals by their fitness indicators violate our belief that people should be judged by...

Tickling Senses Versus Advertising Fitness

If sensory biases led animals to choose lower-fitness animals over higher-fitness animals, I suspect that the biases would be eliminated rather quickly. It seems unlikely that an ornament could persist as a pure sensory bias effect that does not convey any fitness information. That grants too much evolutionary power to males evolving ornaments and not enough to females evolving sensory discrimination abilities. Animals choosing mates do not want their senses subverted by meaningless ornaments. They may like fitness indicators that have a lot of sensory appeal, but they should not be favoring sensory appeal over fitness information. Often there may be no conflict between sensory bias theory and fitness indicator theory. They are complementary perspectives on sexual selection. Sensory bias theory reminds us that mate choice is mediated by perceptual abilities, and that as new perceptual abilities evolve, the way is opened for new kinds of sexual ornaments to evolve. With the evolution...

Fitness Indicators for People Other than Mates

Sexual selection was not the only kind of social selection during human evolution. For humans, as for most primates, all kinds of social relationships affect survival and reproduction. In forming and maintaining many of these relationships there are good reasons to advertise one's fitness, just as one does to potential sexual partners. Friends of higher fitness may survive longer, offer more competencies, and give better advice. Allies of higher fitness may help one to win fights and wars. Trading partners of higher fitness may live longer, travel longer distances to acquire more valuable commodities, and have the social intelligence to keep their promises. None of these social relationships entails any merging of genes, so they are not subject to positive-feedback processes as powerful as runaway sexual selection. But they still offer plenty of scope for all kinds of socially selected indicators to evolve. We can often use the same fitness indicators in non-sexual relationships as we...

Does the possession of novel song material affect reproductive fitness

One remaining question is whether retaining novel song type variants as an adult would affect the reproductive fitness of a male. The fact that conformity in the fee-bee song is maintained within large contiguous populations (Kroodsma et al. 1999 data from 2003 Fort Collins chickadees) suggests that conformity may be adaptive. Conformity in song structure could be adaptive in at least two ways (i) conformity allows males to match the songs of their opponents during countersinging, thus signaling an increased likelihood of escalation, and (ii) females could respond preferentially to song that conforms to a local pattern (e.g. Searcy et al. 2002). With regard to the first possibility, male chickadees in Ontario responded differently to playback of acoustically matching versus

Fitness as a Defense Against Mortality Awareness

With the distinction between proximal and distal defenses as a guide, Jamie Arndt, Jeff Schimel, and Jamie Goldenberg (2003) reasoned that intention to exercise should be an ideal avenue to study the different effects of both kinds of defense. The intention to exercise is obviously a proximal defense in that people are motivated by the desire to be healthy and avoid disease. It is also a distal defense hi that it bolsters self-esteem and body image. In support of this reasoning, health and appearance are often the first and second reasons given in surveys on why people decide to exercise. The study by Amdt and colleagues examined the prediction that mortality salience should therefore increase both reasons for wanting to exercise, namely increasing fitness and looking better (self-esteem). More specifically, Study 1 examined the proximal defense theory (no delay) of exercise, and Study 2 examined a combination of proximal and distal (delay) defenses. Both studies also recruited...

From Fitness Matching to Fitness Indicators

The fitness-spreading effect is interesting, but it doesn't take us very far in understanding the evolution of the human mind. To do that, we have to ask how fitness matching affects the fitness indicators themselves. What follows is admittedly a subtle and speculative argument, but one I think is critical to understanding how sexual selection shaped the human mind. In the above description of fitness matching, it was assumed that individuals could perceive each other's fitness with perfect accuracy. But it is not that simple. Our hominid ancestors did not have portable DNA sequencing laboratories to measure the mutation load of every potential mate. They had to make do with fitness indicators such as sexual ornaments and courtship displays. By definition, fitness indicators have some correlation with fitness, but it is never a perfect correlation. The handicap principle keeps indicators relatively honest, but it cannot keep them perfectly honest, so there will always be a discrepancy...

Indicators for Qualities Other than Fitness

When trying to attract a sexual partner, heritable fitness is not the only thing worth advertising. When males and females cooperate to rear offspring, they should care about more than each other's good genes. They should seek mates in good health because they are more likely to survive as partners and parents. They should seek mates capable of efficient cooperation and coordination, so they make an effective team. Since health and future cooperation cannot be assessed directly, they must be estimated using indicators such as energy level and kindness. Those indicators can evolve according to the same principles as fitness indicators. Usually, there is a lot of overlap between basic fitness and these other qualities. Condition-dependent indicators can advertise both heritable fitness and the aspects of bodily and mental condition that are important for shared parenting. An individual who is grossly incompetent at finding food may have bad genes, bad condition, and bad parenting...

Sports as Fitness Indicators

This discussion of bodily condition brings us to our first example of a human mental ability that evolved through sexual selection the capacity for sports. The ability to invent and appreciate new ways of displaying physical fitness is a distinctly human ability. The ritualized behaviors evolved by other animals to intimidate sexual rivals and attract mates almost always include costly, hard-to-fake indicators of physical condition. Male red deer roar at each other as loud as they can, showing off their size and energy. Usually, the weaker, quieter one gives up quickly. But sometimes the two are so closely matched that they roar for hours until endurance rather than strength decides the contest. As in other species, male humans participate much more often in competitive sports than females. But every human culture invents different sports. We inherit the physical capacities and motivations to learn sports, not the specific genes for football, siding, or boxing. Sports depend on rules....

Evolutionary Fitness and Physical Fitness

Fitness indicators are supposed to reveal fitness but what does fitness really mean For biologists, fitness means an organism's propensity to survive and reproduce in a particular environment. Fitness in this evolutionary sense has three important features it is relative to competitors in a species, it is relative to an environment, and it is a statistical propensity rather than an achieved outcome. Evolutionary fitness is always relative to a population of competitors within a species. High fitness for a barnacle, a mayfly, an oak tree, and a human depend on very different traits, and suggest very different numbers of offspring. What ties together fitness across species is the link between fitness and evolutionary change. Genes underlying high fitness will tend to spread through a population, replacing genes for low fitness. Evolution increases fitness, by definition. In this sense, evolution is progressive when sexual selection favors fitness indicators, it necessarily increases...

The Human Mind as a Set of Fitness Indicators

In the previous chapter we met the runaway brain theory. It has problems it does not explain the trend of hominid brain evolution toward the big and the bright, and it does not work very well with mutual mate choice. However, there is another possible solution. Perhaps the human mind's most distinctive capacities evolved through sexual selection as fitness indicators. We could call this the healthy brain theory, in contrast to the runaway brain theory The healthy brain theory suggests that our brains are different from those of other apes not because extravagantly large brains helped us to survive or to raise offspring, but because such brains are simply better advertisements of how good our genes are. The more complicated the brain, the easier it is to mess up. The human brain's great complexity makes it vulnerable to impairment through mutations, and its great size makes it physiologically costly. By producing behaviors such as language and art that only a costly, complex brain...

Ms Fitness USA

Watch enough American cable television, and sooner or later you will find a pretty good analogy for almost any intellectual revolution in evolutionary biology. For me, the revolution in sexual selection ideas in the last twenty years of the 20th century is nicely symbolized by the eclipse of the Miss America beauty pageant by newer, more fitness-oriented contests such as Ms. Fitness USA. In 1980, before the Ms. Fitness contests were invented, biologists thought that most sexual ornaments were arbitrary. Ornaments supposedly evolved through the runaway process or some other arbitrary process. In this picture, the peacock's tail did not reflect any aspect of a peacock's fitness, so was not a very rational basis for sexual choice. Yet a minority of biologists became skeptical about this view that most beauty is arbitrary. Similarly, feminists protested against Miss America pageants, upset by the apparent arbitrariness of the cultural norms of beauty used by the judges. The ability to...

Fitness Spreading

One effect of fitness matching is to increase the variation in fitness in the next generation. In fact, it creates the widest possible fitness differences between babies. Fitness matching by parents leads to fitness spreading among offspring. Consider the extremes of the fitness spread. The only way to produce a baby of the highest possible fitness given the parents available, would have been for the highest-fitness male to mate with the highest-fitness female. That is exactly what happened, through the mating market. And the only way to produce a baby of the lowest possible fitness would have been for the lowest-fitness male to mate with the lowest-fitness female. Again, that is exactly what happened. Fitness matching does notjust increase the variation in fitness a little bit. It increases that variation as much as any mate choice process could, with or without monogamy. The fitness-spreading effect is important because it creates a very tight link between sexual selection and...

What Makes Sexual Selection So Special

As a result of these incentives for sexual choice, many animals are sexually discriminating. They accept some suitors and reject others. They apply their faculties of perception, cognition, memory, and judgment to pick the best sexual partners they can. In particular, they go for any features of potential mates that signal their fitness and fertility.

What Makes Sexually Selected Traits So Special

Usually displayed more conspicuously and noisily by males than by females. They produce sights and sounds that prove attractive to the opposite sex. They often reveal an animal's fitness by being difficult to produce if the animal is sick, starving, injured, or full of harmful mutations. They show conspicuous differences between individuals, and those differences are often genetically heritable. ( Heritable implies that some proportion of the differences between individuals in a particular trait are due to genetic differences between individuals.) As we shall see, the human mind's most distinctive features, such as our capacities for language, art, music, ideology, humor, and creative intelligence, fit these criteria quite well. However, traits with these features are sometimes not considered legitimate biological adaptations. Evolutionary psychologists Steven Pinker and John Tooby have argued that our science should focus on human universals that have been optimized by evolution, no...

What We Can Expect From a Theory of Human Mental Evolution

This evolutionary criterion makes it much more important to identify the selection pressures that shaped each adaptation than to identify how the adaptation went through some series of structural changes, having started from some primitive state. Complex adaptations are explained by identifying functional features and specifying their fitness costs and benefits in a biological context. The emphasis is on what and why, rather than how, when, or where. For every theory of every adaptation, there is one demand that modern biologists make show me the fitness That is, show how this trait promoted survival or reproduction.

The Handicap Principle Raises the Stakes

The mathematical difficulties with sexual selection were the last barrier to crumble. In 1975, Israeli biologist Amotz Zahavi turned to sexual selection theory and proposed a strange new idea that he called the handicap principle. It revived Fisher's fitness-indicator idea in a counter-intuitive way. Zahavi suggested that the high costs of many sexual ornaments are what keep the ornaments reliable as indicators of fitness. Peacock tails require a lot of energy to grow, to preen, and to carry around. Unhealthy, unfit peacocks can't afford big, bright tails. The ornament's cost guarantees the ornamented individual's fitness, and this is why costly ornaments The controversy over Zahavi's idea marked the true revival of sexual selection theory. Within ten years of his 1975 paper, more research was published on sexual selection than in the previous hundred years. Fisher's fitness-indicator idea was finally in play, its share value boosted by Zahavi's takeover bid. Soon Fisher's runaway...

Why Exercise Enhances Sleep

The benefit of regular exercise to people who have trouble sleeping probably occurs because it reduces stress and anxiety, factors that impede sleep. A good workout leaves you feeling relaxed and in a good mood, so later on you're more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep. The underlying mechanism for exercise's sleep-enhancing effect has not been conclusively determined. One theory is that regular exercise and the subsequent increase in physical fitness that results boosts the brain's production of serotonin, a chemical that promotes sleep. walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, and aerobics all accomplish this. Find the activity you enjoy most and incorporate regular workouts into your life.

Evolutionary topology of adaptive landscapes

The theoretician Stuart Kauffman (1993, 1995) has conducted extensive computer simulations of evolution via the process of natural selection in what he calls 'NK fitness landscapes'. In NK fitness landscape models, N is the number of genes under consideration and K is the number of other genes which affect each of the N genes. The fitness of any one of the N genes is thus a function of its own state plus the states of the K other genes which affect it, allowing one to model epistatic genetic interactions. Such interactions can be extremely complex, yet still can be modelled with the computer. Kauffman's computer simulations have demonstrated that two end-member landscapes exist in a spectrum of NK fitness landscapes a 'Fujiyama' landscape at K equal to zero, and a totally random landscape at K equal to N minus one, which is the maximum possible value of K. In the Fujiyama landscape a single adaptive peak with a very high fitness value exists, with smooth slopes of fitness falling away...

Diet and physical activity

Activity (with the latter assessed by questionnaire) in Greece reported that the odds ratios for the metabolic syndrome adjusted for age, gender, smoking habits, educational status and measurements of inflammation and coagulation factors (but not BMI) were 0.81 (95 per cent CI 0.68-0.98) among people who consumed a Mediterranean diet compared with those who did not eat this diet and 0.75 (95 per cent CI 0.65-0.86) among people who reported little to moderate physical activity compared with people having a sedentary lifestyle (Panagiotakos etal., 2004). In a study of 7104 women the age- and smoking-adjusted prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (defined using ATP-III criteria) decreased across quintiles of cardiorespiratory fitness (19.0, 6.7, 6.0, 3.6 and 2.3 per cent for quintiles 1-5, respectively (Farrell, Cheng and Blair, 2004). The Whitehall II study of 5153 White European civil servants in Britain found that moderate and vigorous physical leisure-time activity was associated with...

Modelling environmental and ecological change

As to entirely outpace the rate of evolution of the organisms upon it, then the organisms eventually are left behind on the plane of zero adaptation and become extinct (Fig. 2.16). Thus we can easily model the process of extinction (or one of the processes, as there are more than one) with the adaptive landscape concept (for models of extinction on Stuart Kauffman's NK fitness landscapes, see Sole , 2002 Newman and Palmer, 2003).

Effects of finescale variation in timing

As Lack (1966) was aware, varying nest initiation dates can affect a number of individual fitness components. At the most basic level, clutch size declines with laying date. The effects extend to hatching and fledging success, the condition of offspring especially as a function of the synchronization of offspring need with the abundance of food recruitment of offspring into the breeding population, the survivorship of adults, and their ability to invest in future bouts of reproduction. In this section we examine the evidence for each of these effects.

Evolution in geological time

The first morphologist to use Sewall Wright's concept extensively to model evolutionary phenomena in adaptive landscapes was the palaeontologist George Gaylord Simpson in his classic books Tempo and Mode in Evolution (1944) and The Major Features of Evolution (1953). Wright's original concept was that of a fitness landscape movement across that landscape involves changes in genotypic frequencies, small scale changes that are termed microevolution. Simpson made the conceptual jump from the fitness landscape of genotypes to the adaptive landscape of phenotypes, or morphologies, and the jump to large-scale evolutionary phenomena that operate on timescales of millions of years, or macroevolution. In this chapter we shall examine some of the large scale evolutionary phenomena

The Black Rain of Mutation

Since the late 1980s, many biologists have been coming around to the view that fitness remains heritable mostly because new mutations are constantly arising and causing trouble. As we saw before, mutations almost always lower fitness. The more mutations an individual carries, the lower its expected fitness. To avoid mutational meltdown and extinction, selection had to be potent enough to eliminate those mutations at the same average rate at which they arose. (As we saw, Eyre-Walker and Keightley estimated that at least 1.6 harmful new mutations per individual every generation have been arising in our lineage for the last several million years.)

Herbicide Resistant Weeds

Still, the dangers associated with transgenic HTCs should not be overstated nor their potential benefits minimized. For example, even if some herbicide-tolerance transgenes were to escape from cultivated crops, there is no reason to suppose that recipient weeds would be at a fitness advantage except where the herbicide in question is applied (indeed, such hybrid weeds in most ecological settings would probably be less hardy than nonhybrid wild types). Thus, the transgene would be unlikely to spread beyond agricultural fields, and the local farmer (rather than the environment and or society at large) would bear the cost of any diminished weed control at his or her site of her

Enigmas Posed by Malevolent Genes

Inborn errors of metabolism pose profound explanatory challenges to scientific beliefs as well as to religious beliefs. Why do genetic mutations detrimental to fitness persist in human populations Why hasn't natural selection's concern with reproductive performance eliminated the human suffering that surely has negative impacts on survival and reproduction The scientific answers Many of the rarer inborn metabolic disorders are encoded by mutations not yet eliminated by natural selection, either because the mutations are partially camouflaged, or because their harmful effects are modest in relation to the rate at which the mutations arise. Camouflaging can occur in at least three ways. Alleles responsible for many genetic diseases, such as alkaptonuria, have deleterious consequences only in homozygous individuals. In heterozygotes, these alleles are shielded from natural selection's view because their poor metabolic performance is compensated by the normal allele. Also, many genetic...

The Brain as a Target for Mutation

Genetic variation is more likely to be manifest in complex traits. This makes complex traits like the human brain better fitness indicators. Imagine all the DNA in our 23 pairs of chromosomes laid end to end in a single strip. The DNA from a single human cell would be about six feet long, and contain about 80,000 genes. Imagine that the genes involved in growing a particular trait are lit up in bright green, and that each gene has a tiny chance of having a mutation that turns the green fight red. For a very simple trait like skin color, there might be only half a dozen lights sprinkled along the six-foot length of DNA. It is very unlikely that any of them would be red. For a moderately complex trait like the shape of the human face, there might be several hundred fights. It is likely that a few of them might be red. For a very complex organ like the human brain, there might be tens of thousands of fights. Our DNA would fight up like a Christmas tree. Although the proportion of red...

Advertising Within Ones Budget

It took biologists about fifteen years to accept Zahavi's handicap principle. Much of that time was spent clarifying what kinds of handicaps could evolve and what kinds could not. Since handicaps are basically fitness indicators, the debate over handicaps helped lay the foundation for the modern theory of fitness indicators. A handicap cannot usually evolve if it commits all the males to producing a costly signal regardless of their true fitness. This would be like all men buying a five-carat diamond engagement ring regardless of their salaries. Such a fixed-cost strategy is not sensible for anybody all the poor men would go bankrupt and starve before their wedding day, while the super-rich men would be indistinguishable from the moderately rich men. The same problems explain why we rarely see sexual ornaments in nature that are produced by all males to an equal degree. A handicap gene that committed all low-fitness males to produce a very costly sexual ornament would simply kill them...

Effects Of Chromium Supplementation On Human Body Composition And Physical Functions

In a second study, 122 obese adults (17 men and 105 women mean age 42.3 years) were randomized to receive a capsule containing either 400 g Cr(III) as Cr(pic)3 or placebo for 90 days 23 . Subjects monitored themselves and reported daily caloric intake and energy expenditure to fitness instructors. Changes in body composition, determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry, included significant reductions in body weight and body fat with effect of Cr(III) supplementation. Body fat, however, decreased significantly more in the subjects supplemented with Cr(pic)3. Lean body weight decreased but not significantly in both treatment groups. The authors further adjusted the body composition data. They calculated additional change in fat weight on the basis that 3500 kcal energy expenditure reflected a 1 lb loss of body fat. After controlling self-reported differences in energy intake and output, the subjects with the Cr(III)-supplemented diets, as compared

An Infinite Variety of Waste

Zahavi's handicap principle and the idea of condition-dependence are different perspectives on the same thing. The handicap idea emphasizes that sexual ornaments and courtship behaviors must be costly in order to be reliable fitness indicators. Their cost can take almost any form. They can increase risk from predators by making an animal more conspicuous with bright colors. They can increase risk from germs by impairing an animal's immune system (which many sex hormones do). They can burn up vast amounts of time and energy, like bird song. They can demand a huge effort to obtain a small gift of meat, as in human tribal hunting. As with Veblen's conspicuous consumption principle, the form of the cost does not matter much. What matters is the prodigious waste. The waste is what keeps the fitness indicators honest. The wastefulness of courtship is what makes it romantic. The wasteful dancing, the wasteful gift-giving, the wasteful conversation, the wasteful laughter, the wasteful...

Evolving Better Indicators

The late 1990s have brought an ever-deeper understanding of fitness indicators in sexual selection theory. Biologists such as Alan Grafen, Andrew Pomiankowski, Anders Moller, Rufus Johnstone, Locke Rowe, and David Houle have pushed the idea of condition-dependence deeper into the heart of sexual selection, relating it to the heritability of fitness arguments and the idea of mutation selection balance. Indicator theory is still developing very quickly, and no one has yet had the final word. However, I am especially intrigued by some ideas that Rowe and Houle developed about condition-dependence in a 1996 paper, because they seem most relevant to the human mind's evolution. In Rowe and Houle's model all fitness indicators start out as ordinary traits. Each trait has certain costs. Higher-fitness individuals have larger energy budgets, so are better able to bear these costs. Initially, a trait may be favored by sexual choice because of some random runaway effect. But once it is favored,...

The Hominid That Wasted Its Brain

If we view the human brain as a set of sexually selected fitness indicators, its high costs are no accident. They axe the whole point. The brain's costs are what make it a good fitness indicator. Sexual selection made our brains wasteful, if not wasted it transformed a small, efficient ape-style brain into a huge, energy-hungry handicap spewing out luxury behaviors like conversation, music, and art. These behaviors may look as if they must be conveying some useful information from one mind to another. But from a biological viewpoint they might signify nothing more than our fitness, to those who might be considering merging their genes with ours. The better our ancestors become at articulating their thoughts, the deeper the principles of wasteful sexual signaling could reach into their minds. By favoring fitness indicators, sexual choice demanded courtship behavior that stretched the mind's capacities. It demanded that which is difficult. It forced the human brain to evolve ever...

The Senses as Gatekeepers

Dawkins and Krebs realized that courtship is especially complicated because it is sometimes exploitative and sometimes cooperative. Typically, males of most species like sex regardless of their fitness and attractiveness to the females, so they tend to treat female senses as security systems to be cracked. This is why male pigeons strut for hours in front of female pigeon eyes, and why male humans buy fake pheromones and booklets on how to seduce women from the ads of certain magazines. On the other hand, females typically want sex only with very attractive, very fit males, so tend to evolve senses that respond only to signals of high attractiveness and high fitness. When a truly fit male courts a

Modelling hyperdimensionality in adaptive landscapes

Real life is very complex and it is clear that an actual fitness, or adaptive, landscape must of necessity be a hyperdimensional space. The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who greatly admired Sewall Wright's concept, nevertheless realized that an actual fitness landscape must possess a staggering number of dimensions space in Figure 3.11, we still can explore its properties mathematically. One interesting mathematical technique is to consider the morphological coordinates given in Figures 3.9 to 3.11 as only to exist in a zero or one condition, rather than a morphological spectrum of values from a minimum of zero to a maximum of one. If we switch to a binary, base two, system of mathematics we may then use the techniques of Boolean algebra to explore the mathematical properties of evolution within hyperdimensional adaptive landscapes. Or we can assign hypothetical fitness, or adaptive values, to the Boolean coordinates of the hyperspace, and computer simulate expected evolutionary...

Displays Match Senses

However, this may just be an example of females favoring males of higher fitness. Larger frogs produce lower-pitched calls, so any female preference for larger frogs could be manifest as greater auditory sensitivity to lower-pitched calls. It may not be a sensory bias at all, but an adaptive way for females to discriminate between large and small males. Any mate choice mechanism that favors fitness indicators will look biased because it will not be most sensitive to the commonest sexual display in the current population. Instead, it will be most sensitive to the sexual display associated with the highest fitness. Nonetheless, it was useful for Michael Ryan to focus attention on call frequency as the relevant variable that connects the female senses to the male displays.

Physiological Variation and Evolution

Figure 11 Human adaptation to fitness training. Thirteen people entered a ten-week endurance training of distance running and moderate weight lifting. Leg muscle was tested at intervals for its capacity for oxygen-dependent energy production (cytochrome oxidase). Note that the body adapts by raising its energy production by 40 percent, whereas oxygen uptake in the lungs increases only 15 percent. Deadaptation is rapid after training ends. (Redrawn from J. Henriksson, and J. S. Reitman, Time course of changes in human skeletal muscle succinate dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase activities and maximal oxygen uptake with physical activity and inactivity, Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 99 91-97, 1977.)

Introduction the problem of providing nutrition information

Nutrition information is, therefore, an aspect of a very broad debate, often highly politicised, about the nutritional quality of the modern food supply, and specifically about the contribution to the modern diet, and therefore to the health of the population, made by pre-packed 'convenience' foods which, together with 'fast food' restaurants and take-aways, make a substantial contribution to the total dietary intake of a significant proportion of the UK population. In terms of issues, the provision of nutrition information ranks very high in the diet and health debate. The UK has possibly been more absorbed by this subject than have most other European Member States, a reflection, perhaps, of the cultural attitude towards food as fuel and the growing obsession with fitness and body form in a population inclining towards obesity. Where food has traditionally been enjoyed as one of life's great pleasures, notably France, the most important factor is what the product tastes like, not...

The Space of All Possible Stimulation

We need either more sexual competition than monogamy provides, or some interaction between sexual selection for entertainment and other sexual selection processes. The ornamental mind theory tends to overlook the interactions between brains as entertainment producers and brains as entertainment consumers. We must remember the possibility of runaway effects, where entertainment consumers become more and more demanding. The ornamental mind theory also ignores the problem of consumer boredom. On evolutionary time-scales, consumers may simply lose interest in useless stimulation. They may simply walk out of sexual selection's amusement park if their sexual choices are not delivering good genetic value. In modern human culture, consumers can be treated as passive systems with stable tastes that can be exploited. But in evolution, entertainment-consumers can evolve as fast as entertainment-producers can. Neither has the upper hand. We have to put the ornamental...

Putting the Pieces Together

Fitness indicators if I did not think that the pressure to advertise good genes was important in mental evolution. And I would not have discussed sensory biases, pleasure, and entertainment if I did not think that the psychological quirks of our ancestors had influenced our psychological capacities through the sexual choices they made. Sexual ornaments really do evolve higher costs and higher condition-dependence in order to work better as fitness indicators. Indicator theory explains why some sexual ornaments stick around for many generations rather than disappearing as transient runaway effects. It gives sexual selection much of its direction, explaining why individuals usually prefer large tails to small, loud calls to whispers, good territories to bad, winners to losers, health to sickness, and intelligence to stupidity.

How Ornaments and Indicators Interact

Any particular trait that evolved through sexual selection was probably influenced by some combination of runaway processes, pressures to advertise fitness, and psychological preferences. Most sexually selected traits probably work as both ornaments and indicators. Some elements of their design evolved to provide hard-to-fake information about fitness others evolved just because they happened to be exciting and entertaining. To understand the human mind as a set of sexually selected traits, we have to envision how ornamental and indicator functions can exist side by side in the same trait. Actually, the handicap principle makes sexually selected traits a bit more constrained than watch designs. The Rolex Corporation has no incentive to mislead its customers about the time. Animals do have incentives to mislead potential mates about their fitness. Coins make a better analogy for sexually selected traits than do watch-faces. Numismatists are familiar with the two criteria of successful...

Genes Are Essential For The Action Of Natural Selection

However, what matters is the existence of a mechanism of replication of variations, not the precise way it works. This disconnection between what is needed for an efficient action of natural selection, and the nature of the mechanisms involved, has two important consequences (Rosenberg, 1994). The first is that any characteristic, which has been shown to be reproduced more or less faithfully, can be supposed to be the target of natural selection even if it is difficult or even impossible to provide any information on the way these characteristics could be genetically transmitted . This explains why population genetics has progressively extended its scope far beyond the structural characteristics of organisms. Life histories -the complex and diverse trade-off between growth, maintenance, reproduction and ageing - became the preferred subject of study of ecologists and geneticists in the 1960s (Korfiatis and Stamou, 1994). In the 1970s, behavior was the focus of attention of behavioral...

Biological Significance

Documented in enteric bacteria, suggest that R-M systems have an important role in bacterial communities. This role has traditionally been considered to be protection against phage. Laboratory studies following bacterial populations under conditions of phage infection indicate that R-M systems provide only a transitory advantage to bacteria. Essentially, an R-M system with a different specificity could assist bacteria in the colonization of a new habitat in which phage are present, but this advantage would be short-lived as phages that escape restriction acquire the new protective modification and bacteria acquire mutations conferring resistance to the infecting phages. It can be argued that one R-M system protects against a variety of phages, and the maintenance of one R-M system may compromise the fitness of the bacterium less than the multiple mutations required to confer resistance to a variety of phages. No direct evidence supports this expectation. It is relevant to remember...

The Role Accorded To Genes In Aging And Death By Evolutionary Theory

The strongest challenge to the idea that genes control aging - within a genetic program or not - came from evolutionists. August Weismann had been the first to look for an evolutionary explanation of aging and death at the end of the 19th century - see Klarsfeld and Revah (2000) for a history. This path was followed by Peter Medawar (Medawar, 1952) and George C. Williams (Williams, 1957). The present model proposed by population geneticists is that the duration of life (and the occurrence of death) is not actively controlled by genes, but that specific forms of genes have been progressively introduced by chance during evolution and can affect the duration of life, and increase the probability of death simply because they do not sufficiently affect fitness to be eliminated by the action of natural selection. Two slightly different possibilities remain these mutations affect the organisms too late, at a time when, in natural conditions, most have already succumbed by accident or their...

Were Fathers Important

The same group-protection effect would have guarded females against sexual predators. Ancestral women could protect one another from harassment and rape, just as other female primates do. From a female's point of view, a strong male partner would be a mixed blessing. He could fend off unwanted attention from other males, but he could also beat you up if he got jealous or angry. Women consistently show preferences for tall, strong males in mate choice studies, but this may reflect a preference for good genes and high fitness, rather than a preference for a male capable of physical violence and intimidation that might get turned against her or her children. Interviews with contemporary hunter-gatherer women by anthropologists such as Marjorie Shostak reveal that these women view many men as more trouble than they're worth. If the men are hanging around, they usually eat more food than they provide, and demand more care than they give one's children. If they have very high fitness, then...

Davids Memory Treatment Plan

I encouraged David to commit himself to a lifestyle that emphasized brain fitness. We discussed his risk factors for cerebrovascu-lar disease and what he needed to do in order to reduce them. These included maintaining a heart-healthy diet and adopting a vigilant stance with his blood pressure and cholesterol. To get 197 We then reviewed the effect of excessive and continuous stress on cardiovascular health, emotional well-being, and brain function. I pointed out that he had relinquished many of the activities that used to provide him with opportunities for recreation and stress release. He understood how time away from his work could paradoxically result in greater professional productivity. He promised to resume his workout routine and get back on schedule for weekly tennis matches with his oldest son. Without needing a lecture from me, he indicated his intention to reduce his alcohol consumption by regaining his discipline during his business lunches.

Combining Courtship and Parenting

Female hominids must have juggled their courtship efforts with their mothering. Some of their courtship displays may have originated by turning normal motherly duties into better fitness indicators and entertainments. If they must tell stories to entertain their children, and if potential male mates are within earshot, they might as well make the stories appeal on both the child and the adult levels. If they must feed their children, and they want to attract a man, they might as well forage for something unusually tasty Male mate choice almost never had the luxury of favoring a woman who did not yet have any children, who could spend all her time frolicking and canoodling. The important variable was not whether a female already had children, but whether she was a cheerful mother or a careworn mother, a beautiful mother or an ugly mother, an intelligent mother or a boring mother. Sexual competition between females was mostly sexual competition between mothers.

Where Sexual Choice Did Its Work

For sexual choice to have any evolutionary effect, different individuals must produce different numbers of surviving offspring by virtue of their sexual attractiveness. How did the most attractive hominids leave more offspring When we focus on the polygynous aspects of ancestral mating, it is easy to see. The most attractive males simply inseminate a larger proportion of females, and the least attractive males inseminate fewer. The next generation will inherit many genes from the most attractive males, and none from the least attractive. Polgyny raises the possibility of runaway sexual selection, which is driven mostly by differences in male reproductive success. Also, polygyny helps explain sex differences. The higher variation in reproductive success among males explains why male humans are so keen to show off, to dominate culture and politics, and to broadcast indicators of their fitness to any female who might listen. To the extent that our ancestors were polygynous, there were...

Sexual Selection When Everyone Ends a Partner

To see how sexual selection can work even when everyone pairs up into couples, we need a thought experiment. Like all good thought experiments, it will be simplistic, unrealistic, and cartoon-like. But it will give us a surprising result. In this imaginary scenario, every hominid individual finds a sexual mate, every relationship is totally monogamous and permanent, and every relationship produces an identical number of babies. And yet, as long as sexual choice favors fitness indicators, sexual choice can still drive sexual selection by producing unequal numbers of grandchildren. Here's how it works. Imagine a tribe of hominids, half of them male and half female, all single, all just reaching sexual maturity at the same time. Some males have higher fitness than other males, and they advertise their higher fitness using fitness indicators such as vigorous dancing, intelligent conversing, or realistic cave-painting. Some females have higher fitness than other females, which they...

Sexual Selection Without Sex Differences

The pure fitness matching process would not produce any sex differences. All else being equal, males and females would evolve fitness indicators to precisely the same degree. This is because under strict monogamy they would have equal incentives for displaying their fitness and for selecting mates based on fitness. Fitness matching tends to promote sexual equality in the How many traits have these features predicted by the fitness matching model Many traits in many species look ornamental and costly, show minimal sex differences, and probably influence mate choice. However, biologists since the 1930s have usually called such traits species recognition markers. They assumed, following the tradition of equating sexual selection with a mechanism for producing sex differences, that such traits simply advertise one's species rather than one's fitness. For the last fifty years, whenever a biologist noticed something that exists in both sexes, which would have been called a sexual ornament...

In Search of a Few Good Hominids

Fitness indicators themselves make sexual choice simple. When a female long-tailed widowbird chooses a mate, she can get a pretty good estimate of his fitness simply by looking at the length and symmetry of his tail feathers. She does not need a complete DNA profile highlighting all his mutations the tail is all she needs to see. The fitness indicators that our ancestors evolved also made sexual choice much easier. They could just pay attention to a few cues like height and facial appearance, and get a pretty good estimate of an individual's fitness. Each trait that we consider sexually attractive already summarizes a huge amount of information about an individual's genes, body, and mind.

Mate Choice and Courtship as Social Events

If mate choice favors good genes, it can be useful to meet a potential mate's blood relatives, because they share some of the same genes. An individual's kin give additional information about their heritable fitness. If an intelligent man has foolish brothers or a beautiful woman has ugly sisters, this may lower their attractiveness as potential parents of one's children. Siblings share half of their genes, as do parents and offspring. The apparent fitness of a woman's mother or daughter carries half as much information about the woman's own genetic quality as her own fitness indicators. Given two sexual prospects who appear to display equal fitness, the one whose relatives appear healthier, brighter, more attractive, more fertile, and more successful probably has higher actual fitness. Since our ancestors tended to live in kin groups, there were plentiful opportunities for mate choice to take into account this sort of kin quality. Our mate choice systems would have evolved to exploit...

Spontaneous Generation

The problem was, if new materialist creations were popping into being all the time, evolution had to be starting over all the time. This didn't fit with Darwin's model and his belief that all species were evolved to equal states of fitness, that you couldn't rate them on a scale of more or less evolved. Darwin guessed that this sort of abiogenesis had occurred, but millions of years ago when conditions were right and conditions were no longer right.

Human Behavioral Commonality

Suggested to have evolved because a youngster's survival is compromised by premature arrival of a competitive brother or sister. Why is pornography so ubiquitous Because, some say, it is a demand-driven media response to a biologically determined male predisposition for polygyny (mating with multiple females), which in turn stems evolutionarily from a lower mean investment in progeny by men than by women. Why do incest taboos exist Because, supposedly, the low genetic fitness associated with inbreeding has favored the evolution of proximate behavioral mechanisms, often coded in societal rules, to avoid mating with close relatives. Why do pedestrians and mall shoppers regularly aggregate into groups predictable by gender and age Because, according to one sociobiological account, particular grouping behaviors in our ancestors were adaptive individuals with high reproductive potential optimized mating contacts and minimized competitive interference by forming small mixed-sex groups,...

Sport Utility Vehicles

Until recently, science and medicine have viewed the human body as a machine that evolved for its survival utility. In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins proposed a radically evolutionary view of the body as a vehicle that carries its genes from one generation into the next. A sexual selection analysis views the body as an instrument for displaying physical fitness through costly displays like copulatory courtship and a huge variety of sports. Can we-playfully combine these utility, vehicular, and sports views and consider the human body a sort of sport utility vehicle (SUV) The human body seems to have evolved along similar lines. At first glance, it looks and acts like a utility vehicle evolved for survival. It looks as if it grew larger throughout the Pleistocene under the pressure of male sexual competition, because smaller males were not as safe for their genes to ride around in. But the proliferation of sexual ornamentation on our bodies suggests that sexual choice was also at...

Rank survival and lifetime reproductive success

Previous shorter-term studies from our group and others (Table 9.1) have documented fitness benefits accrued by high-ranking chickadees in the form of greater over-winter survival (Desrochers et al. 1988 Smith 1991), better or larger territories (Desrochers et al. 1988 Mennill et al. 2004), enhanced success in social and extrapair mate choice (Smith 1988 Otter et al. 1994, 1998 Otter and Ratcliffe 1996 Ramsay et al. 2000 Bronson et al. 2003 Mennill et al. 2003b, 2004 Woodcock et al. 2005), and greater clutch size, hatching, and fledging success (Otter et al. 1999). A primary goal of our long-term analyses was to partition the effects of rank from those of age, and to determine how year effects may influence this relationship.

Clinical studies nonrandomized

Intervention consisted of unspecified dietary advice and increased physical activity conducted either in groups or individually. There were improvements in VO2max , lowered body weight, BP and serum triglycerides, greatest at one year, but maintained over the six years. Among people in the IGT group without intervention, 21.4 met criteria for diabetes ( 6.7 mmol l fasting and or 11.1 mmol l at two hours), whereas only 10.6 had diabetes in the intervention group (RR 0.49 (CI 0.25-0.97)). Subjects who lost the most weight and improved oxygen uptake the most had the greatest improvements in glucose levels. These results were further explored in another report76 which showed that, in addition to forced vital capacity (as a correlate of fitness), insulin resistance (higher 2 h insulin level) and lower insulin secretion (40 minute insulin increment during the OGTT) predicted diabetes independently among people with normal glucose tolerance.

Great Artists of the Pleistocene

If art evolved through sexual choice, better artists must have attracted more sexual partners, or higher-fitness partners. How could that have happened To appreciate the Pleistocene artist's reproductive advantages, we should not necessarily think of Modigliani's cocaine-fueled quest to have sex with every one of the hundreds of models he painted, or Gauguin's apparent drive to infect every girl in Polynesia with his syphilis. Perhaps it is better to remember how Picasso fathered one child by his first wife Olga Koklova, another by his mistress Marie-Th r se Walter, and two more by his mistress Fran oise Gilot. Picasso is not a bad example of the idea that artistic production serves as a fitness indicator. Before dying at age 91 and leaving an estate of 1 billion in 1973, he had produced 14,000 paintings, 34,000 book illustrations, and 100,000 prints and engravings. His tireless energy, prodigious output, and sexual appetite seem to have been

Constructing A Library Of Longer Structural Motifs

The second approach that we suggest is to use Genetic Algorithms to concatenate building blocks Genetic Algorithm is a parallel computation paradigm based on the idea that repeated mutations, crossovers and selections, will efficiently evolve solutions to difficult problems. Several problems related to protein structure have been addressed by genetic algorithms for example Unger and Moult, 1993, Pedersen and Moult, 97a, 97b, Yadgari et al, 1998 . To implement a genetic algorithm for a specific problem, one needs to represent the solutions as strings, to define the genetic operators of mutation and crossover on these strings, and to define a fitness function to score each solution. For the problem of concatenating building blocks, these definitions are easily derived. Solutions, i.e. conformations, can be represented by a string of numbers of the length of the proteins, where the ith number refers to the identity of the building block used in the ith position of the structure. A...

Program to Get You Started

This section includes sample programs for each of the three main fitness components aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises. For the aerobic components, I focus on walking because it's an activity that almost everyone can do safely even people with a heart condition and it's inexpensive. If you're more inclined to biking or swimming, just substitute those activities. You can mix and match parts of these sample programs to create a personal fitness routine, or you can fold these activities into an existing routine. Of course, check with your doctor before starting this or any exercise program to make sure it's appropriate for you.

The Beautiful the Difficult and the Costly

Runaway theory and sensory bias theory are not fully satisfying as explanations of human aesthetics. Runaway cannot explain why we have just the preferences that we do. Our sensory biases may be shared with other apes, but they show little evidence of our aesthetic tastes, so sensory biases do not appear to explain human aesthetics. Perhaps fitness indicator theory can do a better job of illuminating human aesthetics. According to this view, maybe our aesthetic preferences favor ornaments and works of art that could have been produced only by a high-fitness artist. Objects of art would then be displays of their creator's fitness, to be judged as such. As with the sexual ornaments on our bodies, perhaps beauty boils down to fitness. To be reliable, fitness indicators must be difficult for low-fitness individuals to produce. Applied to human art, this suggests that beauty equals difficulty and high cost. We find attractive those things that could have been produced only by people with...

Flexibility Ten Basic Stretches

Stretching exercises that increase flexibility are another key component of fitness. When done regularly, the following simple stretches can help you to stay limber, avoid injury, and improve your balance and posture. Unless otherwise indicated, repeat each of the following stretches three to five times.

Mutation Detecting Fish

Mutations, the raw material of evolution, are a fact of life. However, only a small fraction of newly arisen (de novo) mutations actually increase an organism's prospects for survival and reproduction most are harmful or at best merely fitness-neutral to their bearers. Thus, the mutational process would seem to be a necessary biological evil, permitting the continuance of the evolutionary game, yet leaving many ruined cells and lives in its wake.

Handaxes as Ornaments

Selection favored symmetric handaxes as fitness indicators. If their arguments work, handaxes represent the first hominid works of art, and the first hard evidence of sexual selection shaping human material culture. In his book As We Know It, Marek Kohn argued that the handaxe is a highly visible indicator of fitness, and so becomes a criterion of mate choice. Handaxes make good Zahavian handicaps. They impose high learning costs it takes six months to acquire the basics of flint-knapping, and years more to perfect the skill. They take extra time to make. Modern experts with 25 years of flint-knapping experience take about 20 minutes to make a decent handaxe, whereas a simple edged tool can be made in just a couple of minutes. There are risks of injury modern flint-knappers wear boots, leather aprons, and goggles to protect against flying rock shards, and they often get cuts on their hands. Expert handaxe production requires a combination of physical strength, hand-eye coordination,...

Why does the X chromosome have a role in male fertility

It is interesting that, at least in mice, a disproportionate number of male-specific genes are located on the X chromosome. Two theories have been offered to explain this phenomenon meiotic drive and sexually antagonistic genes (Wang et al., 2001). Compared to the autosomes, the sex chromosomes are thought to be more susceptible to meiotic drive, in which there is preferential transmission of certain alleles to gametes and offspring rather than its homolog, in contradiction with Mendelian patterns. This process could skew transmission of X over Y chromosomes, perhaps driven by X-linked genes critical for spermatogenesis. Alternatively, the theory of sexually antagonistic genes, often invoked to explain why the Y chromosome is laden with spermatogenesis genes, could also be used to account for an abundance of X chromosome genes. Sexually antagonistic genes might enhance the reproductive strength in one sex and diminish it in the other and there is reason to believe that such genes...

Getting Back on Track

Even the most dedicated exercisers sometimes go astray. Almost anything can knock you off track a bad cold, an out-of-town trip, or a stretch of bad weather. That's why it's critical to learn how to reclaim your routine. When you've missed workout sessions, you need to evaluate your current level of fitness and set goals accordingly. If you've been away from your routine for two weeks or more, don't expect to start where you left off. Cut your workout in half for the first few days to give your body time to readjust.

Epilepsy and Driving Licence Regulations

Summary Epilepsy and Driving Licence Regulations, a report, promotes the goal of uniformity in driver's license regulations in order to stimulate the search for solutions to the many problems that still remain unresolved. The report is divided into seven sections, and is based on the efforts of seven physicians who work in separate parts of the world and are recognized as having a special interest and experience in the field of epilepsy and driving. The first section presents an introduction to the controversy over driving license regulations for persons with histories of epilepsy and the role physicians should play in these regulations. The second section describes current driving license regulations in (1) Europe (the European community, other western and northern European countries, and eastern European countries) (2) the Middle East and Asian countries (3) Australasia (Australia and New Zealand) (4) Africa (5) North America (the United States and Canada) and (6) South America. The...

Mating Well by Doing Good

In 1995, Irwin Tessman became the first to argue that sexual selection shapes morality. He pointed out that human generosity goes beyond the demands of kinship and reciprocity. Perhaps generosity works as a Zahavian handicap that displays fitness, and thus evolved through sexual selection. Amotz Zahavi has argued since the 1970s that apparent altruism could bring hidden reproductive benefits through the social status that it inspires. Anthropologist James Boone recently combined Zahavi's handicap theory and Veblen's conspicuous consumption theory to explain costly, conspicuous displays of magnanimity. While Tessman and I focus on direct mate choice for moralistic displays during courtship, Zahavi and Boone emphasize the indirect reproductive benefits of high status. Both effects were probably important during human evolution.

Blood Sports and Arabian Babblers

One perspective is that hunting should be regarded as just another competitive male sport, a contest in which winners can attract mates by demonstrating their athletic prowess. As we saw in Chapter 7, men spend huge amounts of time and energy doing useless sweaty things with one another basketball, sumo, cricket, skiing, tae kwon do, mountaineering, boxing. To an evolutionist, male human sports are just another form of ritualized male contest in which males compete to display their fitness to females through physical dominance. From a female's point of view, sports are convenient because they make mate choice easier. She can tell which male is healthier, stronger, more coordinated, and more skillful by seeing who wins these ritualized contests. She doesn't need to weigh six hundred pounds to test a man's sumo ability herself the other sumo wrestlers do it for her. Now that most of the cultural barriers against women participating in sports have fallen, men can equally assess a woman's...

Physical activity and diet

Lower levels of physical activity and fitness in South Asians compared with Europeans (Fischbacher, Hurt and Alexander, 2004). Ethnic differences were more marked in women, older people and Bangladeshis. In the Health Survey for England, for example, age-adjusted levels of physical activity were 14, 30 and 45 per cent lower compared with recommended levels in men and 33, 37 and 65 per cent lower in women, respectively, of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin than the majority population (Fischbacher, Hunt and Alexander, 2004). There is also evidence that some of the minority ethnic groups in the USA have lower levels of physical activity than European Whites (such as Mexican-Americans and African-Americans) (Yusuf etal., 2001). Although there are a multitude of determinants of levels and extent of physical activity, cultural and religious issues may be particularly important in some groups, such as South Asian Muslim women in the UK (Carroll, Ali and Azan, 2002). In general,...

Sexual Selection for Sympathy

If sexual preferences evolved to avoid anything, they should have evolved to avoid psychopaths. During human evolution there may have been a three-way arms race females developed better tests for male sympathy, male psychopaths developed better ways to fake sympathy, and male non-psychopaths developed sympathy-displays that were harder and harder to fake. Just as fitness indicators evolved to advertise freedom from harmful mutations, perhaps sympathy indicators evolved to advertise freedom from psychopathy.

Obtain Regular Exercise

The first study, of forty-one older adults, found that participants with higher cardiovascular fitness (as measured by maximum oxygen uptake during aerobic activity) performed better on a complex attentional task and demonstrated significantly greater fMRI activation in associated brain regions. In the second study, twenty-nine adults, ranging in age between fifty-eight and seventy-seven, were randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise group or a control group that did stretching and toning. After six months, the aerobic group exhibited increased cardiovascular fitness (as evidenced Consult a personal trainer to help you devise a home exercise routine combining aerobic exercise and weight training.

The Crisis Of Modern Medicine

In the closing months of 1999, a flurry of documents indicated the direction of measures for tougher action against rogue or 'under-performing' doctors and for closer regulation of the profession as a whole. The GMC published its long-awaited plans for the regular 'revalidation' of doctors based on an assessment of their fitness to practise (Buckley 1999). The RCGP and the General Practitioners Committee of the BMA jointly produced proposals on how revalidation could be implemented in general practice (RCGP October 1999, November 1999). Meanwhile the government's chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, issued a consultation paper on 'preventing, recognising and dealing with poor performance' among doctors, proposing 'assessment and support centres' immediately dubbed 'boot camps' or 'sin bins' for delinquent doctors (DoH November 1999). These

Sexual Selection and Nietzsche

In The Will to Power, he listed the core elements of these pagan virtues (1) virtue as force, (2) virtue as seduction, (3) virtue as court etiquette. What is striking here is that Nietzsche's virtues sound remarkably like sexually selected fitness indicators.

Selfish Language Communication Manipulation or Display

The rise of selfish-gene thinking in the 1970s shattered this idyllic view of animal signaling. Traits did not evolve for the good of the species. In their seminal 1978 paper, Richard Dawkins and John Krebs argued that animals should evolve to produce signals only when signaling gives them a net fitness benefit that helps their own genes replicate at the expense of other genes. Evolution The modern theory of animal signaling grew from this insight. Signals don't usually convey information about the world, because signalers have so many reasons to lie about the world. The theory suggests that animals usually evolve to ignore the signals from other animals that may be attempting to manipulate them. There are only a few exceptions. Predators listen to signals from prey that reliably say You can't catch me, or I'm poisonous. (Animals hiding from predators also evolve camouflage, the purpose of which is to hide signals of existence rather than to broadcast them.) Relatives listen to...

Evolution Based Methods

After a large set of models has been obtained, they are ranked according to some fitness function (e.g., pairwise potentials) to select the putatively best one. These approaches appear more promising than the construction of a single model obtained by separately optimizing every step of the procedure.

Cyrano And Scheherazade

To explain language evolution, then, we need to do the same things we did for morality find a hidden survival or reproductive benefit in the apparently altruistic act of speaking. As with morality, there are three basic options for the hidden benefit kinship, reciprocity or sexual selection. The fitness benefits of speaking must have come from giving useful information to a relative, sustaining a mutually beneficial information-trading relationship, or attracting a mate. I am sure all three were important, and I am not going to claim that sexual choice was the only selection pressure that shaped human language. However, I do want to highlight some features of how people talk that are not very consistent with the kinship and reciprocity theories.

Rights to Genetic Knowledge

Who decides the kinds and levels of genetic testing to be done Employers and insurance companies no doubt would wish to have greater assurance that their employees and policyholders are genetically hardy, just as they now routinely require medical exams to assess the physical fitness of applicants. At the population level, many insurers would like to refine their actuarial tables to accommodate any gene-based mean differences among ethnic groups in health and longevity.

Genomic Analysis of Virulence Genes

To see whether and to which extent the genomes of S. aureus N315 (causing acute infections) and S. epidermidis RP62A (causing chronic infections) differ from each other, an arbitrary list of 125 virulence or fitness genes of the S. aureus N315 genome were investigated for the presence of homologous genes in S. epidermidis RP62A (Nerz et al., 2002). Genes or operons were selected that are involved in the production of exoenzyme, toxins, adhesins including biofilm formation, Fe-uptake, resistance to various antibiotics, and other functions. The comparison of both genomes was complicated by the fact that the RP62A sequence was

Fragment Based Methods

The new-fold predicting methods are usually fragment based that is, they combine fragments of known structures, taken from our database of known protein structures, to construct a model of the target protein. Fragments with identical sequence can assume different conformations in different structures, so we cannot just search for fragments of known structure that have a sequence identical, or similar, to some fragment of the target protein and join them together. However, the innovative idea behind the new fold methods is that the distribution of conformations in which we find a fragment with a given sequence can be related to the propensity of that sequence to assume each of these conformations. We can retrieve all fragments sharing some local sequence similarity with each of the fragments of our target protein and join them in many combinations. This procedure generates a large but finite set of putative models that we can optimize by application of genetic algorithms, for example....

How Biology Makes Sense of Death

In the past, death posed a conundrum for biologists death as such did not seem to perform a function in life, yet death seemed a part of life, since only living things died. Indeed, death did not seem to be one of life's qualities, even though, with few exceptions, it was the end of life. Likewise, death seemed incapable of evolving, since it did not contribute to the fitness of the individual, and genes would not, therefore, determine death.

So Why Cant My Boyfriend Communicate

I have already argued that effective verbal courtship is a reliable fitness indicator precisely because it is costly and difficult. Animals evolve to allocate their energies efficiently. If it took a million words to establish a sexual relationship with you, your boyfriend was apparently willing to absorb those costs, just as his male ancestors were. But if it takes only twenty words a day to maintain exclusive sexual access to you, why should he bother uttering more His motivational system has evolved to deploy his courtship effort where it makes a difference to his reproductive success mainly by focusing it where it improves his rate of sexual intercourse. Men apparently did not evolve from male ancestors who squandered high levels of verbal courtship effort on already-

Scheherazade Versus Science

Language evolved as much to display our fitness as to communicate useful information. To many language researchers and philosophers, this is a scandalous idea. They regard altruistic communication as the norm, from which our self-serving fantasies might sometimes deviate. But to biologists, fitness advertisement is the norm, and language is an exceptional form of it. We are the only species in the evolutionary history of our planet to have discovered ft system of fitness indicators and sexual ornaments that also happens to transmit ideas from one head to another with telepathy's efficiency, Cyrano's panache, and Scheherazade's delight.

Plasticity of Rhabdovirus Gene Expression

It has long been known from studies on VSV that rhabdovirus mRNAs are sequentially transcribed starting from the 3' terminal genome promoter (Abraham and Banerjee 1976 Ball and White 1976). Due to dissociation of the polymerase at each gene border, a progressive loss towards the 5' end is observed. This results in a gradient of transcripts following the gene order (Iverson and Rose 1981). Notably, the gene order of natural rhabdoviruses is conserved with the N and P genes needed in stoichiometric amounts for RNP formation, at the first two 3' proximal positions, whereas the catalytic L protein is encoded by the most 5' terminally located gene (Conzelmann 1998 Pringle 1997). Due to the transcript gradient, N mRNAs are the most abundant and L mRNAs the least abundant viral mRNAs. This unique feature of Mononegavirales gene expression can modulate the level of expression of a transgene by changing the relative distance from the 3' promoter (Wertz et al. 2002). However, it must be noted...

Evolutionary responses to climate change

Tree populations (Murphy et al., 2006), which rarely show the pattern expected from the abundant centre hypothesis. Edge populations are often larger than expected from the abundant centre hypothesis (e.g. Herlihy and Eckert, 2005), and possibly have reproductive strategies that differ from core populations. This suggests that the potential expansion of range margins for many species will not by hampered by gene flow from core areas, contrary to expectations (see Kirkpatrick and Barton, 1997, who also note that small changes in patterns of gene flow could plausibly be caused by climate change and can cause peripheral populations to become demographic sinks), and that core populations reduce the fitness of edge populations confronted by distinctive environmental conditions.

Stability of Rhabdoviruses

Leading to transcription of a bicistronic mRNA were also observed after the insertion of an extra transcription unit between the VSV N and P genes. Poor replication of the original recombinant virus was restored already after two virus passages (Wertz et al. 2002). Obviously, silencing gene expression from VSV is predominantly achieved by mutations in the transcription signals, which led to the assumption that these sequences on the viral genome are hot spots for mutations (Quinones-Kochs et al. 2001). However, in all cases analyzed so far, the read-through mutations resulted in a fitness gain of the virus and may have been selected only by selection pressure. Especially the stability of extra transcription units in the more downstream gene borders, that do not affect replication of the virus, argue against the hot-spot theory (Wertz et al. 2002).

Adaptive landscapes and theoretical morphospaces

In contrast to an adaptive landscape, where the dimension of fitness or degree of adaptation is a fundamental feature of the concept, theoretical morphospaces are constructed without any assumptions concerning the adaptive significance of the hypothetical morphologies produced within that morphospace. The absence of actual organic form in that morphospace does not necessarily mean that the hypothetically possible, but naturally nonexistent, morphologies are nonadaptive something that would be automatically assumed in an adaptive landscape. Thus theoretical morphospaces allow us to go beyond the adaptive landscape concept of functional constraint, and to consider empty regions of morphospace that might be due to geometric, phylogenetic and developmental constraints.

Corticosterone Cortisol

With respect to the functions served by maternal aggression, a dominant view is that such behavior protects the young from infanticide by conspecific males and females (Hausfater & Hrdy, 1984 Parmigiani, Palanza, Mainardi, & Brain, 1994). Male rodents and primates may increase their fitness by killing alien young because the mother of the young would then cease to lactate and she would therefore resume mating and ovulating, in this way allowing the infan-ticidal male to sire his own offspring. Infanticide by nonlactating female rodents toward alien young may be a type of female-female competition for safe nesting sites. Importantly, there is some observational and experimental work which indicates that maternal aggression can operate to prevent the occurrence of infanticide (for review, see Numan, 1994).

Creativity and Intelligence

So, what is this general intelligence I have mentioned intelligence repeatedly throughout this book as an important criterion of mate choice, but I have not discussed it explicitly in much detail. There are two reasons for this. First, intelligence research remains controversial. A few vocal critics who do not understand modern intelligence research have had an undue influence on public opinion. Despite the fact that more is known about the nature, importance, and genetics of intelligence than about almost anything else in psychology, I did not want to get side-tracked into such debates. Perhaps my ideas are already controversial enough. Second, I am still thinking about the relationships between intelligence, fitness, genes, and sexual selection. I can make some plausible guesses about how they may have interacted during human evolution, but these guesses should be taken as provisional speculations. Perhaps what psychologists call general intelligence or the g factor will turn out to...

Viral encephalitis encephalitis caused by a virus

Viral fitness The inherent ability of a virus to replicate and cause disease. In HIV patients who have been taking HAART, the virus that is left in the body after use of HAART is less fit than wildtype virus that has not been treated. Studies showing these results may influence some patients to remain on therapy even if the drug regimen is beginning to fail because their treated virus is less likely to replicate than the wild-type virus, which would return if they stopped treatment.

Timing of Senescence the Opening

Cytokinin levels decrease throughout petal and corolla development suggesting a role for cytokinins in maintaining the fitness of the flower (van Staden, 1989). In addition, both the exogenous application and transgenic plants overproducing cytokinins have shown that cytokinins can delay petal and corolla senescence (Cook et al., 1985 Upfold and van Staden, 1990 Lukaszewska et al., 1994 Taverner et al., 1999 Chang et al., 2003). In ethylene-sensitive flowers cytokinins, both exogenous and endogenous, decrease ethylene sensitivity thereby delaying senescence (Chang et al., 2003 Cook et al., 1985). Cytokinins and concentration changes during development have not been studied in ethylene-insensitive flowers.

Deterministic Patterns

If we have a set of sequences of proteins that are known to share a common property, we can enumerate a set of possible patterns, calculate how well each pattern fits the examples on the basis of a predefined fitness function, and select the patterns with highest fitness. The most natural way to enumerate the patterns is to determine the length of the pattern and use as the initial set all patterns of the given length present in the set of examples that is, all substrings of the predefined length present in the protein sequences that share the property to be predicted. At the end of the procedure, more than one pattern can be combined to obtain the optimal pattern, and this method guarantees that, up to some limited size, the best patterns can be found almost regardless of the total length of the examples.

Voice Disorders of Aging

Lifestyle factors can either postpone or exacerbate the effects of aging on the voice. Although a potentially limitless combination of environmental factors combine to affect aging, perhaps the most controllable and potentially significant lifestyle factors are physical fitness and cigarette smoking. The elderly population is extremely variable in fitness levels. The rate and extent of decline in motor and sensory performance with aging varies both within and across elderly individuals (Finch and Schneider, 1985). Declines in motor performance are directly related to muscle use and can be minimized by a lifestyle that includes exercise. The benefits of daily exercise include facilitated muscle contraction, enhanced nerve conduction velocity, and increased blood flow (Spirduso, 1982 Finch and Schneider, 1985 De Vito et al., 1997). A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise may also positively influence laryngeal performance, although a direct link has yet to be established...

The Clitoris and the Orgasm

From a sexual selection viewpoint, clitorises should respond only to men who demonstrate high fitness, including the physical fitness necessary for long, energetic sex, and the mental fitness necessary to understand what women want and how to deliver it. The choosy clitoris should produce orgasm only when the woman feels genuinely attracted to a man's body, mind, and personality, and when the man proves his attentiveness and fitness through the right stimulation.

Genetic Sovereignty

According to Hamilton's rule (Hamilton, Genetical Evolution of Social Behavior ), a behavior is favored by selection whenever Awx + SryxAwy 0, where Awx is the change the behavior causes in the individual's fitness, Awy is the change the behavior causes in the relative's fitness, and r-yx is the genetic relatedness of the individuals (e.g., r 0.5 for full-sibs, r 0.25 for half-sibs, and r 0.125 for first cousins). 27. Another sociobiological possibility is that homosexuality in human ancestors served to minimize intragroup conflict and promote social harmony. In one of human's closest evolutionary relatives, the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), same-sex trysts are extremely common and serve to resolve power issues peacefully. See F. de Waal, Bonobo The Forgotten Ape (Berkeley University of California Press, 1997). On the other hand, if gay and lesbian lifestyles in humans were unknown to science, sociobiologists could glibly explain their absence as an expected...

Framework For Collaborative Community Action On Health

The Health Action initiative in Monroe County, New York, provides a good example of community involvement in assessing, prioritizing, and planning for health improvement (Milbank Memorial Fund, 1998 Health Action, 2001). Founded in 1995, Health Action is a collaborative of health care providers, hospitals and clinics, the local health department, an urban health commission, a university, the chamber of commerce, a large employers' organization, and a professional association. Between 1998 and 2001, report cards were developed and released for five areas (1) the health of mothers and children, (2) the health of adolescents, (3) the health of adults, (4) the health of older adults, and (5) environmental health. Focused goals and action plans were developed for each area. For adults and older adults, Health Action selected two goals to promote healthy behaviors that prevent or delay chronic disease and to promote the use of preventive health services. Health promotion objectives included...

Fitness Fundamentals

Fitness Fundamentals

Everyone knows that good health is something to be treasured and respected, but few make a conscious habit to pay attention to their health until the red flag appears which in most cases signifies really poor health conditions. Get fit with the info here.

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